Trends to look out for in KL this year

Industry insiders predict the new trends for 2016
By Time Out KL editors |

Another year, another opportunity to bring inspirations and new ideas into fruition. We asked filmmakers, musicians, chefs and industry experts the trends that’ll most likely take over KL this year.

Joachim Leong


Joachim Leong 
Founder of CaféHop MY (also known as CaféHop KL) and part-time barista at SpaceBar Coffee Project
‘The KL café scene is definitely in for a bumpy ride as more cafés open but the economy is not doing so great. I predict we’ll see more collaborations between different F&B outlets (other non-coffee artisans), and other industries working with coffee for more shared-space cafés. Look at Sri Petaling with Three Little Birds Coffee and Inside Scoop, or down south in Johor Bahru at BEV C, which is a boutique and a café as well.’

Marcus Low 
Co-founder and general manager of The Kitchen Table Restaurant & Bakery 

‘One, we can predict an increase in the number of small-scale independent food establishments operated by young cooks. Two, there will be a demand for healthier alternatives to the food options out there. Three, technology will serve as an important platform for F&B operators as a diverse set of food and beverage experiences ranging from packaged meals to food trucks to online retail will be coming to town in 2016. We also want to see more local artisanal purveyors come into the scene.’

Benjamin Yong 
Founder and Group Chief Eating Officer of The BIG Group

‘I think in 2016, the KL dining scene is heading towards more home cooking with healthy, organic and adventurous vegetarian options. Also, there will be more independent pop-ups with significantly bolder flavours. I wish sundaes and donuts (in old school flavours such as peanut butter jelly; my personal favourite!) will be the next big thing! In the KL dining scene, I wish to see smaller menus, more pride in the produce being used, whether local or imported. In short, I would like to see more restaurants taking pride in what they do, which usually translates to a better food experience, rather than just Instagram-worthy dishes.’
Mystery Tapes (Zack Yusof)


Zack Yusof 
Host of BFM’s music programme ‘33rpm’, music columnist at Esquire, and frontman of Mystery Tapes
‘I reckon more bands are going to go the portable or minimal route in terms of their music and live shows. In the modern age, it’s definitely the most cost effective way to go about the very expensive business of running a band. Two- or three-piece bands are the future. Less will definitely be more in 2016.’
Fikri Fadzil 
Founder and producer of The Wknd 
‘Southeast Asia is an emerging market for a lot of industries, the music industry being one of it. We've already seen an increase in the last couple of years in the amount of international acts playing in Malaysia and around the region, may it be single showcases or festivals. The Malaysian and Southeast Asian music community can and should capitalise on this quickly, creating a bigger Southeast Asian network (instead of focusing on a specific country). Although this can't be implemented on the industry level, scenes (underground and independents) which are free of protocols and bureaucracy will be able to do this swiftly. The industry will follow suit (as per usual). In terms of music (sound and genres), with all the international festivals and music being showcased in this region, we will see a lot more musicians and bands trying to emulate those artists. A side effect of this will create a yearning for something a lot more original, a lot more localised. Artists would start to look inwards, may it be Malaysia or Southeast Asia, for sources of inspiration. Some have already started doing so.’

Mak Wai Hoo 
Founder of Soundscape Records
‘It’s hard to tell but most likely, it’ll all stay the same. EDM will still be the main force, more indie club nights will emerge, venues like Under9, Minut Init, Barlai and Live Fact could help to stir things up. Live music will resort to a smaller scale, interest on international acts will decline further, more local acts will tour abroad. Rumour has it that major labels will reissue ’90s local bands (such as Butterfingers and OAG) in vinyl, this could be the next big thing for local industry.’
Tan Chui Mui


Tan Chui Mui 
Filmmaker and writer at Da Huang Pictures
‘I hope to see more Malaysian films explore cinematic storytelling, and I quite look forward to the new films by Dain Said, Ho Yuhang, Diffan Norman, Amir Muhammad and Liew Seng Tat. With Kamil Othman in FINAS, there’ll be more dialogue between film policy makers and industry people, making film grants more transparent and accessible. Also, we started “Next New Wave”, an effort to nurture young Malaysian filmmakers with mentors from the Southeast Asia region.’
Cassey Gan

Shopping & Style

Cassey Gan 
‘People are beginning to pay more attention to design and this is really good for local designers. I am seeing a lot of local talents with great work and new ideas coming through. The younger generation of designers is pushing boundaries and is not afraid to be a bit more experimental, which makes the local scene a lot more exciting. Online shopping will continue to grow in Malaysia and there are more local online platforms setting up to offer more variety to the public.’

Keith Chee 
Creative director of HIDE and fashion photographer 
‘The Japanese or oriental influence will still be a trend for the next season in 2016. Local fashion will also move towards eco-friendly and sustainable designs – at HIDE for example, we're exploring stock lot fabrics for minimal design and production waste.’

Pearly Wong 
'Weekend bazaars and markets will be a hit for fashion designers as we can see the rise of local fashion designers like Cassey Gan and Tsyahmi joining Seek & Keep at BSC and Fern Chua at Markets at Jaya One. Hence, weekend markets will also be on the rise. It’s going to be an exciting year for the fashion scene as we see more and more young and new exciting labels coming to life as a ripple effect of these young labels joining KL Fashion Week in 2015 and also the rise of concept stores like Fabspy, Thisappear +, ModeMarket and more, allowing these brands a place to sell their clothes'

Hayden Koh 
‘In 2016, we are looking forward to more reinvention again from our designers. Reinvention is one of the main keys to show the world that we have so many innovative, talented designers here in Malaysia. Personally, fashion is about responsibility to me. Making beautiful clothes isn’t just about selling a look or a style – it’s also about effort.’
Datin Shalini Ganendra


Datin Shalini Ganendra 
Founder of Shalini Ganendra Fine Art, exhibition curator and cultural entrepreneur
‘I foresee installation art to be the developing trend of 2016 as it allows the possibilities of combining art, design and architecture. Installation art offers a variety of presentation options and it’ll also encourage interactive opportunities.’
Christopher Ling


Christopher Ling 
Artistic director of theatrethreesixty
‘In the coming year, Malaysian theatre will see a return to its roots – the intimate, actor-driven productions of yore, partially due to the economic outlook and our continuing obsession with “keeping it real” on and off stage. Themes presented will be more accurately reflective of our life and times as Malaysians. The year 2016 will also see me directing theatrethreesixty’s very first Shakespeare play in honour of the year-long #Shakespeare400 celebration.’
CK from 44 bar


Head bartender at 44 Bar
‘I predict a lot more bars will be using their own infusions, and they’ll also come up with their own bitters, vermouths and more. Many will also up their game on craftsmanship and introduce fancier garnishings and ingredients. It’s the simple things, like making your own ice.’